Brian Gallagher and Ryan Wilke, the dynamic co-founders of NYC’s Throwback Fitness, take us back to the ephemeral moments of our youth and remind us that working out can be effective and fun!

Q: You are the co-owner of one of the hottest new studios to hit the scene in NYC.  How did you guys come up with the idea for the workout and studio?

Brian & Ryan: We loved working out together and discovered that teamwork and friendly competition encouraged us to push ourselves a little harder than if we were working out alone.  We searched for a group fitness class that provided teamwork, competition, and most importanly, fun, and didn’t find exactly what we were looking for.  Almost all group fitness classes, while working out with sometimes up to 40 people in a single room, are still very individualized.  We wanted to create our own category – one that encouraged interaction and friendly competition.  We think of it more as “Team Fitness.”We are called Throwback Fitness because as kids, we had fun running around and sweating and didn’t even think of it as exercise.  So Throwback has modeled many workouts after games we would play as kids which makes people forget they’re working out.

Q: What are your top 3 fitness tips you give to clients?


1. When looking to change habits or lifestyle, make small, manageable changes to start. Large, drastic changes are hard to stick with and very often lead to failure.

2. Keep it fun. You’re much more likely to remain consistent when you look forward to something instead of seeing it as a chore.

3. Instead of counting calories or adhering to a super strict diet, just try to limit the sugar and processed food intake.

-Brian & Ryan

Q: How do you personally mix up your workout routine?

Brian: I go through stages where I focus on one or two elements.  For a month or two, I may focus purely on bodyweight movements to give my joints a rest from heavy weights.  I’ll often pick a movment or exercise that I want to improve upon and incorporate that heavily in my workouts for a one or two month period too.  For instance, I was set on getting my 2k row below 7:00, so I focused on rowing sprints and intervals for a month until I hit my goal.  As a result, I indirectly improved my endurance which has benefited me in other aspects as well.  This approach has allowed me to keep everything fresh and can give me a goal for each cycle.

Ryan: I create different workout structures and games to keep things fun.  This is how we developed workouts modeled after Capture the Flag and Dodgeball.  Sometimes it can get quirky and we have included beer and tequila in the workout.  I also like to try different activities like distance running, gymnastics and rock climbing.

Q: What is one of the most rewarding aspects of your role as studio co-owner and instructor?

Brian: For me, it’s hearing that people truly believe that they can actually have fun while working out.  I love hearing people say that they’ve never had so much fun during a workout or that the time during class has just flown by. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and love to have fun in everything we do.  We want more than anything for Throwback to have that same vibe while still providing the results you’d expect from exercise.

Ryan: Becoming friends with some great people that we have met through Throwback.

Q: We had to ask! – Favorite 80s movies, TV shows, or pop stars?

Brian: Movie: The Karate Kid; TV Show: The Wonder Years; Pop Stars: Michael Jackson, Fresh Prince, Van Halen, Pearl Jam, MC Hammer (to name a few!)

Ryan:  I grew up in the 90s so my favorite movies are Wayne’s World and Point Break.  But my all-time favorite movie star / celebrity and fitness icon has to be Arnold.  Has anyone led a more interesting life?

Q: What is the funniest/most memorable moment from a class in studio?

Brian: We’ve had a lot, and almost all of them have involved accidental shots to the head (or below the belt!) in TBF Dodge, our take on dodge ball.  We play with foam balls so I know it’s safe to laugh..haha!

Ryan: We have a workout modeled after the drinking game flip cup.  We typically do not include any alcohol in this one but had some requests to include beer.  So we had a special pre-Labor Day workout where we gave people the option to complete an exercise or chug a small amount of beer during the game so things got pretty rowdy!

Q: What are your go-to songs on the studio playlist?

We play lots of 90s and 00s rap… DMX, Ja Rule, TuPac, Biggie and Jay Z.  But probably our most played songs are:

Good Vibrations by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch

No Easy Way Out (the theme song to Rocky IV)

You’re the Best (theme song to the Karate Kid)

It’s nearly impossible to slow down when you hear either of these songs come on!

Sweat (and Party) Like It’s 1994! Meet The Throwback Fitness Founders